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How The Nation Magazine Makes the World Safe for the Plutocracy

by John Spritzler

April 30, 2013

The Nation magazine's target audience is people who want to read journalism that comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. What readers of The Nation don't realize is that the magazine's purpose is to protect the most comfortable people of all--the American plutocracy--from its readers.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor and publisher of The Nation. She is also a member of the uber-elite policy-making organization, the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization that virtually all readers of The Nation could not join even if they wished to do so, but which includes as members people such as Bill Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney and other mass murderers.

How does Ms. vanden Heuvel carry out her appointed task for the plutocracy?

First, the magazine runs articles that seem to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, in order to hold the attention of its target audience. Second, it incorporates ideas in its articles that prevent its readers from doing anything that would actually threaten the power of the plutocracy. Here's an example from today's online The Nation.

William Greider has an article titled, "The Bangladeshi Blood on America's Hands." It starts off with an admirable condemnation of not only the rich capitalist owner responsible for the recent deaths of workers in a Bangladeshi factory, but also a right and proper explanation that the capitalist system ("global competition") is the root of the problem:

"They are still digging up victims from the collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh—381 corpses and counting—while international media report the sickening details of crushed skulls and severed limbs and describe with sympathy the wildly distraught mourners searching the rubble for dead daughters. The Daka authorities arrested the greedy factory owner to save him from the mob. Sohel Rama, owner of the collapsed factory, blamed the pressures of global competition. He had no choice, he explained. Keep the sewing machines humming or else lose the contract."

Readers of The Nation are fairly sophisticated about how the world works and would not read The Nation if it did not discuss the root cause of the evils it reports, the way Greider does in this recent article. But once the reader is persuaded he or she is reading a sophisticated article that aims to afflict the comfortable, the reader's guard is down against insidious ideas that protect the plutocracy. In Greider's article, for example, the insidious idea is that resistance in the United States to the plutocracy is futile because there is no force inside the United States that could ever challenge the power of the plutocracy. The American public, Greider reminds his reader, is as guilty for the crimes of capitalism as is the plutocracy, and benefits from these crimes. Don't even dream, Greider implies, that this American public could be mobilized to oppose crimes with which it is complicit and from which it benefits. Here are Greider's insidious words:

"Let’s drop the tear-jerk stories in American newspapers. Let us admit the cold truth about ourselves. The guilt for these distant deaths belongs to us—the self-righteous American government and morally obtuse American citizens. Not only because our people buy the stuff these young girls make in dangerous places where many of them will perish...This cycle of exploitation is destined to continue until the world runs out of poor countries to exploit. Or until citizens in rich countries like the United States get over the ignorant indifference and face up to their guilty complicity with evil practices done in their name."

Since "indifference" is something people seldom "get over" and since "guilty complicity" seldom motivates people to rise up against that with which they are complicit, Greider might just as well have titled his article, "Abandon hope, all ye who don't like capitalism." But that would have given the game away. Sneaking that message into a "Isn't capitalism horrible" article is much more effective.

It will be a cold day in Hell before The Nation will feature articles about why revolution in the United States is not only necessary but possible. There will be damn few articles in the magazine about how the American public, far from being "morally obtuse," is morally opposed to the plutocracy's criminal agenda. The Nation's readers will not read many articles praising the American public's positive values that are counter to those of the plutocracy, nor will they read about why this means there is a basis for building a revolutionary movement.

There will not be many articles reporting facts such as that a majority of Americans want a single-payer (or Medicare for all) health care system to make health care a right for all and that they would be willing to pay higher taxes to make it happen--that, in other words, they reject the plutocracy's immoral principle of "good health care only if you can afford it."

Nor will Katrina vanden Heuvel's magazine provide evidence to its readers for perceiving Americans (whom Greider describes as "morally obtuse," "indifferent," "guilty" and "complicit") as wanting to be in solidarity with people around the world whom our plutocracy oppresses--evidence such as this report by the Chicago Tribune:

"Americans overwhelmingly support foreign aid in principle and strong majorities want to increase it to feed the hungry, help women and children, aid Africa and promote the Peace Corps, a new opinion poll said Monday...Of those surveyed, 83 percent said they felt the United States should join an international program to cut world hunger in half by 2015, and 75 percent would be willing to pay an extra $50 in taxes per year to achieve this...The poll asked what percentage of the federal budget goes for foreign aid. The median guess was 20 percent. Even those with postgraduate degrees guessed 8 percent. Most thought the U.S. spends more on foreign aid than on Medicare or even national defense. In fact, the federal budget devotes 1 percent to foreign aid, far less than most other programs, including Medicare and defense. Another unexpected finding was that about half of those polled believed that most aid ends up in the pockets of corrupt foreign officials."

The Nation's purpose is to persuade its readers that they are an enlightened but hopelessly small and impotent minority surrounded by a hostile guilty immoral and complicit American public. The subtext is "Abandon hope, you are all alone and resistance is futile." This is how The Nation protects the plutocracy from its readers, by demobilizing them with demoralization.

Stop reading The Nation! It is time to start Thinking about Revolution.

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